Crime Scene Soil Investigationby: Cynthia Deaton and Sarah Simms

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Fifth graders use mobile learning to solve a “crime.”

Grades
  • Elementary
Publication Date
1/1/2017

Community ActivitySaved in 0 Libraries

Reviews (2)
  • on Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:55 PM

I chose to add this article to my collection because the activity looked fun! I know that isn’t always a sign of effective teaching and learning, but I digress… I am always interested to learn about a lesson that seems to be highly engaging for the students. This crime scene soil investigation is an instructional approach to students learning about soil composition. The article includes tools and instruments used in the lesson, which are: ProScope, MicroAquariums and iPads with the AirScopePro app downloaded onto it. I learned exactly how to implement this lesson, as well as some helpful strategies to encourage students to use higher-level thinking. This lesson implements 4th-grade science processing and content standards. Specifically, the process standards are TEKS 4.2(A), 4.2(B), 4.2(F), 4.3(A) and 4.4. The content standard implemented is TEKS 4.7(A). I would use the information in this article to implement this lesson plan in my future science classroom. I might have to alter the type of technology used based on what is available to us, but thankfully this article also includes a variation of technology adaptations. Based on my field experience thus far, I predict that this lesson activity will be effective because of its appeal to students and the differentiated learning that it presents the opportunity for. I strongly agree that it would be vital to clearly review, explain and even model appropriate behavior and safety concerns during this lesson. I wonder, based on the students’ prior knowledge, would the instructor need to visually model their investigation and data documentation phase?

Gracie A  (Tyler, TX)
Gracie A (Tyler, TX)

  • on Wed May 01, 2019 6:39 PM

This article is written in a way that it can be taken and written into a lesson plan. It discusses how students use critical thinking and exploration of hands on materials to investigate a “crime scene.” It begins with establishing the materials students will need to complete the lesson and how to get students prepared while also mentioning accommodations that could be made for students will motor skill or verbal concerns since there is a lot of discussion in this activity. Students are then introduced to the crime and they begin to discuss and problem solve who they think committed the crime and why but how do they know? This is when they experiment with different soils. Science safety procedures come into play during this time by having the fifth grade students explain to the teacher what they should do to be safe and smart with their materials. After students “investigate” and decide who their main suspect is, they must prove why. They get stuck in a trap and realize they need to compare more soils. This calls for more experimentation = hands on investigation. Throughout the whole lesson, the teacher is asking higher level critical thinking questions in order for the students to understand why they are investigating the soils and why they are doing so in specific ways. I appreciate this article because it provides me with a science lesson to do with fifth grade students when working with nature and soils but also provides ways for me to lower the level if I am teaching to younger grades such as third or fourth grade. I also appreciate how students are able to use technology such as the iPads to learn about the different kinds of soils instead of using textbooks. I also enjoyed the idea of the lesson as I whole with it being a crime scene investigation. Completely fiction, but it was still something for the students to relate to the real world and I feel like that doesn’t happen enough these days. Another thing I enjoyed was it was a majority class discussion activity. Obviously students still had to be assessed at the individual level but it was done based on critical thinking questions and the data they brought to the table and how their groups performed experiments and handled their materials. 10/10 lesson and article!

Madelyn Thomsett
Madelyn Thomsett


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